“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
Ohio State began spring football practice on March 8th. Heading into the 2016 college football season, Ohio State will have 44
players on its roster designated as either a redshirt freshman (21 of
the 25 players signed in February 2015), or a true freshman. For a
roster that can have only 85 scholarship players, Ohio State will have
around 52% of its roster with no playing time experience. As
former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going
to bite you, it will bite you as a pup.”.
For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group
previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio
Stadium on April 16th, 2016. These position groups will be ranked, from
least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible
that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be
reevaluated after the spring game.
5th – Wide Receiver
Players Lost – Braxton Miller, Michael Thomas, and Jalin Marshall.
Braxton Miller exhausted his eligibility in 2015, and showed glimpses of
brilliance along the way as he transitioned from quarterback to wide
receiver. Somehow, this move will remain etched in my memory for years
Michael Thomas had a year of eligibility, but gave it up to enter the
2016 NFL Draft. Thomas displayed reliable hands and a physical style
to the position that will be missed.
Jalin Marshall actually gave up two years of eligibility to enter the
2016 NFL Draft. Of all the Buckeyes who entered the NFL Draft,
Marshall seemed to be the player who could have benefited from another
year in Columbus. Oh well – best of luck to Marshall as he prepares for
the 2016 NFL Draft.
Returning Players/Incoming Players – Corey Smith (Redshirt Senior),
Noah Brown (Redshirt Sophomore), Parris Campbell (Redshirt Sophomore),
Johnnie Dixon (Redshirt Sophomore), Terry McLaurin (Redshirt Sophomore),
James Clark (Redshirt Junior), Alex Stump (Redshirt Freshman), K.J.
Hill (Redshirt Freshman), Austin Mack (Freshman).
A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…
· Corey Smith and Noah Brown are penciled in as starters at the wide receiver spots. Neither are expected to play much this spring, as both players are coming off injuries that ended both players’ 2015 seasons. Smith enters the 2016 college football season as the leading returning wide receiver, with 5 receptions. No, that is not a misprint. 5 receptions. Curtis Samuel had 22 receptions in 2015, and is listed as an H-Back on the roster. More importantly, Samuel is going to miss portions of spring practice, due to an offseason surgery.
· Johnnie Dixon has battled nagging injuries
throughout his Ohio State career. With so many players hungry for
playing time, this spring may be a now or never type of moment for Dixon
· Parris Campbell has also been mentioned prominently by Ohio
State Head Coach Urban Meyer. Campbell may be able to make a move with
the depth chart, with Smith and Brown sitting out throughout the spring
· True freshman Austin Mack has been singled out by Coach Meyer after the first two practices. Mack will be a player to keep an eye out for during the upcoming spring game on April 16th.
· Other players who may be in the mix are Terry McLaurin, James
Clark, Alex Stump, and K.J. Hill. Clark has played sparingly ever
since his injury that took place in 2013. McLaurin played sparingly in
2015. Both Stump and Hill redshirted in 2015.
· The biggest wild card of the position group is Torrance Gibson. Gibson was one of the crown jewels of the 2015 recruiting class…at quarterback. Gibson redshirted last season, and is listed in the official program spring football guide as a wide receiver.
· Binjimen Victor is another highly-touted freshman, but will
not be on campus until the summer. All of the players listed above will
want to take advantage of the spring, as it seems that Mack will be in
the mix for playing time in 2016. Victor could get a look this summer if the players do not take advantage of the spring practices.
These questions, among others, have been on my mind, as Ohio State will resume spring practice on March 22nd.